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The Saga Between Service Dog Mimosa and JJ Barnes Continues as Their Bond Grows Ever Stronger

Skylight Chief Financial Officer and Skylight Foundation Secretary Treasurer Kathy Barnes, Skylight Financial Planner Bobby Barnes, and their son JJ have been on a two-and-a-half-year journey receiving their 4 Paws for Ability, service dog, Mimosa. After two years of raising money, with the help of the Skylight Foundation, and now six months of an intense bonding period for JJ and Mimosa, the Barnes family can proudly say they are the perfect fit for each other.

JJ is an intelligent, lively 15-year-old-boy with a very rare genetic disorder called Bainbridge-Ropers syndrome. This condition is similar to Cerebral Palsy, making JJ a perfect candidate for a service dog.

In December 2020, Kathy spoke with the foundation about how excited they were for their new furry family member to arrive, and now that Mimosa is settled, we sat down with her to get an update.

Before Mimosa was brought home to the rest of the Barnes family, JJ and Mimosa went through training at 4 Paws for Ability in Xenia, Ohio, to entirely reveal what she is capable of doing. This is where they showed how she does deep tissue therapy, retrieves dropped items, opens doors, walks with JJ and his wheelchair, and much more!

Once Mimosa was brought home, it did not take long for the rest of the family to fall in love with her. However, this is where they had to be sure not to interrupt the bonding period between Mimosa and JJ. “Since JJ is a nonverbal child and cannot give the same affection towards her like everyone else, we have associated everything positive with JJ. Whenever we give her treats, throw the ball, or feed her, we make sure he is nearby, so she knows that he is her person,” Kathy shared.

The turning point in their relationship was when she started going to school with him every day. Once that began, she wanted to sleep with him and stay by his side at all times. “She is so in tune with him now—I know she can sense if he is having a good or bad day and can distract him by pawing him or setting her head in his lap,” Kathy said.

With Mimosa around, Kathy and Bobby can rest a little easier knowing she will always be there for JJ even if they cannot. “Mimosa has become a constant in JJ’s life that has brought him a new sense of confidence in his everyday activities,” Kathy said. In addition, Mimosa is not only constantly comforting JJ but has also given him a new perspective on socializing because everyone loves coming up to them both to pet her and interact with JJ.

The bonding aspect will always be something that the Barnes family has to work on in making sure that JJ is the focal point during their time with Mimosa. They have checkpoints every three months to ensure she is still reaching her service dog requirements and have to send in vet documents stating her health is being maintained. “Having a service dog is not like having a normal pet—they have certain markers they have to hit and food arranged so they can stay at their optimal health,” Kathy said.

Naturally, Kathy is now on the executive board of 4 Paws for Ability as a member of the financial committee because she believes so strongly in their cause and has been directly impacted by their incredible efforts to give families, children, and adults better lives. The Barnes family has also requested a companion dog or, as 4 Paws says, “Fabulous Flunky,” which is a dog that has gone through the service dog training but had a minor issue that stopped them from becoming a service dog. These dogs work well with service dogs as they do not distract them from doing their job but are great for keeping the service dog and the rest of the family company.

“Our family cannot thank the Skylight Foundation enough for all of the support they provided us in order to get Mimosa. She has been such an amazing addition to our family!” Kathy exclaimed. They suggest if any family believes a service dog could benefit their child to look into it because it can be life-changing for families and children.

Thanks for sharing, Kathy! We wish you and your family all of the best.

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